Categories
Games How-To

Early Guide to the Savior Title

Planning to work towards earning the title “Savior” in Destiny 2? Here’s your guide to the triumphs necessary to claim the Seal and equip the title before it expires at the end of the Season of Dawn.

14 total Triumphs are necessary to complete the Seal. I’ve reordered them slightly below to group them by theme/location.

Obtaining the Triumphs

The Season of Dawn Collections Badge

You’ll need the following to complete this one:

  • The Global Resonance triumph, which is also included in this Seal. It drops the Timeswept Shell Ghost shell.
  • The Crucible Quests “Stronger Together” and “Fire Breather.”
  • The Gambit Quests “Tear It Up” and “Spitting Distance.”
  • The Vanguard Quests “Duty Driven” and “Shoot Fast, Tread Lightly.”
  • Collecting a full set of the seasonal armor. You receive this automatically if you have the premium track on the Season Pass.
  • Obtaining all three seasonal exotic weapons: Symmetry, Devil’s Ruin, and Bastion.
  • Acquiring one of each weapon available as a reward from the Sundial activity.

The most time-consuming bits of this will be the seasonal ritual quests, which require engaging with all three major playlist activities, and in half of them, using specific weapons to earn the ritual weapons for the season.

As long as you are engaging with the seasonal exotic quests as they appear during the season, you should receive the rest of this more or less naturally. You’ll need to make sure you pull at least one of each weapon from the Sundial activity.

EDZ Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the EDZ Obelisk to 10.

Tangled Shore Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Tangled Shore Obelisk to 10.

Mars Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Mars Obelisk to 10.

Nessus Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Nessus Obelisk to 10.

Global Resonance: Increase the total Resonance Rank of all Obelisks to 40.

These will require engaging with the seasonal activity nodes on each of the four selected planets. To increase the Resonance Rank of the Obelisks, you’ll need to run weekly bounties that can be found at each Obelisk, or receive drops from running playlist activities, the Sundial, or the Menagerie.

The Tangled Shore and Mars Obelisks are available in the game now. EDZ and Nessus receive their Obelisks on 17 December.

Race Through Time: Complete the Sundial within a set amount of time. (Checkbox indicates this is for Niruul specifically.)

Inotam’s Ruin: Defeat Inotam, Oblivion’s Triune, within the Sundial.

Flayer Slayer: Defeat each of the Psion Flayers found within the Sundial (3).

I received the time trial triumph after my first run of the Sundial, so I have no idea how quickly you need to complete the activity. It’s possible this just requires not failing at any given section of the activity. If you are cycling it often enough, these should happen for you automatically.

Over time, Flayers are being added to the Sundial. It’s not obvious at this point whether they are being added to a rotation, or replacing each other. To be safe, I’d recommend running the Sundial as soon as you can when one is added, to ensure you receive the completions.

Ozletc is being added on 17 December, and Tazaroc on 24 December. Inotam is being added on 4 February.

Legendary Psion: Defeat Inotam, Oblivion’s Triune, on Legend difficulty or higher.

Legend Sundial is not available until 7 January, and Inotam is not being added until 4 February. It’s somewhat likely that running Sundial on Legend will require a pre-made fireteam, meaning this may not be possible to do solo.

Undefeatable: Complete a run of the Sundial without dying.

The hardest part of doing this at the time of this post is surviving the “cages” Niruul places on you during the boss fight. They require other players to shoot them to prevent you from dying. This would be significantly easier with a pre-made fireteam.

Saintly Savior: Save Saint-14 from the Infinite Forest.

The seasonal schedule indicates this will likely be completable starting on 17 December. This is a story progression quest found within Season 9.

Link Repair: Repair each of the fractured links found on the Tower Obelisk.

It’s unclear when this will be added to the game.

Torch-Bearer: Complete the Empyrean Restoration effort and light the beacon.

Empyrean Restoration is an event or quest on the seasonal calendar, and it’s scheduled to be released on 4 February. You won’t be able to complete this until then.

Devil’s Ruin: Travel to Twilight Gap and collect the materials required to repair Devil’s Ruin.

The Devil’s Ruin quest is scheduled to open on 7 January.

Bastion: Acquire the Exotic fusion rifle Bastion.

The Bastion quest is scheduled to open on 28 January.

A Chronological List

Here’s what you can do when, if you want to start getting ahead.

  • Immediately
    • Begin increasing the Resonance Rank of the Tangled Shore and Mars Obelisks.
    • Finish the first steps in the Saint-14 Quest, which are available from Osiris.
    • Begin work on the Crucible, Vanguard, and Gambit seasonal quests and ritual weapon quests.
    • Run Sundial and collect each of the four weapons available. Defeat Niruul. Attempt to do so quickly to receive the time trial Triumph.
  • 17 December
    • Complete the Saint-14 rescue quest.
    • Begin increasing the Resonance Rank of the EDZ and Nessus Obelisks.
    • Defeat Ozletc in the Sundial activity.
    • Run the Sundial and collect the four remaining weapons now available.
  • 24 December
    • Run the Sundial and defeat Tazaroc.
  • 7 January
    • Complete the quest to obtain Devil’s Ruin.
  • 28 January
    • Complete the quest to obtain Bastion.
  • 4 February
    • Complete a run of the Sundial at Legend or higher, defeating Inotam.
    • Begin the Empyrean Restoration event/quest.
  • Unknown
    • Perform quest steps necessary to complete/fix the Tower Obelisk.

The earliest possible date to complete the title is likely 4 February, and the Season of Dawn concludes on 9 March. You must complete all necessary Triumphs before the weekly reset on 9 March.

Categories
Markel!

Entering the Mechanical Rabbit Hole

I’ll have a more detailed post on the assembly of this thing once I have the final parts put together, but I’ve sourced myself the bits necessary for a ten-key-less mechanical keyboard (otherwise known as a TKL keyboard).

The keycaps showed up today:

And along with them, one hundred Cherry MX Blue switches:

I’ve been using mechanical keyboards for a while now, starting with a Model M I scrounged from the campus IT department I then used through college and grad school, then a Unicomp reproduction hard-wired to Dvorak (which was not a great idea), then most recently a Logitech Orion using their Romer-G custom switches, and a Corsair K70 mk.2 that uses MX Browns.

I have liked both the Romer-G and the MX Brown switches, but I’ve been wanted to go to something with a defined click again for a while. The K70 can be ordered with MX Blues, but there was a lot of appeal to finding myself a “standard” keyboard that can take various keycaps and be reconfigured at will.

The plate/board I’ll be using is the Drop CTRL, which I ordered without switches or keys so I could just use my own. I ended up not saving anything more than about $20 doing it this way, but in the end, I’ll have caps I wanted, the switches I wanted, and a keyboard that doesn’t require soldering work to swap out switches down the line if I want to test another brand or line.

The CTRL is the only part that hasn’t yet arrived. I’m hoping it’s here before the end of the week.

Categories
Critical Discussion Games

Thoughts on Destiny 2 Season 8

Tomorrow, Destiny 2’s Season 8 concludes, and Season 9 begins. 8 served as the opening season of Year Three, and marked a transition for the game from a “traditional” update method of small DLC packs spaced out within the year to one large DLC pack and small-purchase seasons to fill in content droughts.

I thought I’d jot down some thoughts on it from the last ten weeks, divided into some of the major aspects of the season. I’ll try to keep this about things particular to this season and not to things that were big sea changes from Shadowkeep.

What I’ll touch on:

  • Vex Offensive
  • Iron Banner
  • Eriana’s Vow
  • Eververse and the Season Pass
  • Ritual Weapons
  • Undying

Vex Offensive

The big “seasonal activity” going away tomorrow is Vex Offensive, and it’s an amazingly mixed bag. For the most part, the activity itself isn’t bad. It’s a progressive arena shooting bit, with a timer that doesn’t impact a whole bunch other than whether you get good drops or not? (I’m not really even sure about this because it’s very not obvious what it does. It’s not a fail state.)

Things warp in, shoot shoot, bang bang, run bounties, get a weekly challenge out of it or two, get a bunch of weapon drops, rinse, repeat.

Normally, a fairly inoffensive horde-style mode, which at this point is generally what we are getting out of seasonal stuff (cf. Menagerie, Forges, probably Sundial). It gives a rather generous number of random roll drops, which is good and gives you a chance to find a roll you like from grinding out the weeklies for drops. The mechanics of the encounters are fairly easy to grasp.

I think Vex Offensive is a very good start for the type of seasonal activities we’ll be seeing that come and then go after each block of time.

There are some problems here, and they are more issues with the current design philosophy of Destiny rather than the activity itself:

Almost every bounty and triumph connected to the mode requires you to be an active jerk to your teammates.

This is now a rather frequent problem Destiny as a whole. It forces you into matchmade team activities, and then gives you objectives to complete that push you into doing things that take away from your teammates’ ability to accomplish exactly those same things. Bounties and triumphs requiring “final blows” instead of participating in defeats of enemies with assists mean you’re competing with others in what’s ostensibly a cooperative mode.

The only real way to progress on these goals is to go Peak Titan and charge ahead of all of your teammates, grabbing the glory for yourself. It’s enormously frustrating, and for more friendly players who might otherwise enjoy the game and the cooperative nature of these activities, is a huge drain on enjoyment.

Because of Champions, a team can drop into Vex Offensive that doesn’t have a realistic chance of completing it well.

The Champion mechanic is a new one introduced with Shadowkeep. In Vex Offensive, the two enemy types requiring specific weapons or mods to defeat efficiently are Barrier and Overload “Champions.” You can outdamage or stagger these enemies and circumvent the weapon mechanic, but for a team of random players to have a reasonable chance at a good run, the team should have a distribution of both anti-Barrier and anti-Overload weapons equipped.

The simple problem is that many players just don’t pay attention to this. Whether it’s because they are trying to complete triumphs that require specific weapons, some classes of which can’t even equip the necessary mods, or because they are ignorant or unbothered by the mechanic itself, I know of many runs where only one or two of us were doing all of the work against the champions, which then slows down the activity entirely. The game doesn’t prevent you from loading in without equipping the tools necessary to have the best chance at a good completion.

The annoying thing here is that I believe Champions are an overall positive addition to the game, especially in things like the raid and the Nightfall strikes. They add a layer of tactical complication that makes previously rote sections of content more interesting in terms of the weapons you choose and how you construct a team, but they appear to be mystifying matchmade teammates in many activities.

Destiny 2 needs more prescriptive instructions to players that teach them how to play the game “properly.” Especially with the entrance fee to Destiny now being free-to-play, I believe there are many players in the game today that don’t understand many of its basic mechanics. More tutorial content—or better yet, less inscrutable information in-game—would go a long way to making activities less annoying to run.

Iron Banner

I mostly had fun in Iron Banner this season, but then again, I usually have fun in Iron Banner. Power Level matters, but it’s not insurmountable, grouping is advantageous so I enjoy running it with my friends and clanmates, and it provides an excuse to run around with dumb weapons in PvP and escape the PvE grinds for a while.

If I’m going to PvP, I generally prefer that PvP to be Iron Banner.

The armor was a new set that rolled pretty high stat packages most of the time, and reputation packages from Saladin had a decent chance at dropping Enhanced versions of armor mods, which gives a greater number of players access to these without having to play competitive PvP or high-level non-matchmade activities. This was good.

The weapons were the same ones we’ve been using for over a year, so not super-exciting. They could definitely use a refresh.

Even the bounties for pinnacle gear were halfway decent. One required final blows, one required assists, one required zone captures, and one required ability kills (more on this one in a second). Most players are capable of completing two of these given a decent amount of time in the mode, and a decent number of others probably capable of nabbing three each Iron Banner. Two to four pieces of 950-960 gear three times in 10 weeks is pretty great.

The ability kills bounty should have been rotated out early in the season.

This was even a known problem! It was admitted that they were aware the bounty was causing trouble because the number of kills was very high (200), and the bounty was quite difficult to complete, especially for some classes that have poor supers, poor neutral game, or both.

The API indicates there are three more bounties available to be rotated in, none of which made an appearance in any of the Iron Banner weeks of Season 8. It would have been a great solution to rotate those bounties in once the problem was known and admitted. (Perhaps this is actually quite difficult to change without a risk of breaking things, in which case, OK.)

The “kickoff quest” for Iron Banner was too much.

For the first time, there was a quest that had steps necessary both to earn the Iron Banner armor for the first time for the season, and even to unlock the ability to turn in tokens for reputation drops. If you hadn’t completed the quest, you could do nothing with the Iron Banner Tokens you’d had drop from either wins or losses.

This was unfortunate, and I think a mistake. Here were the steps:

  • 10 zones capped, 30 opponents defeated, 3 Super final blows
  • 6 matches completed, 20 zones captured, 25 pulse rifle final blows
  • 20 fusion rifle final blows, 30 zones captured, 100 opponents defeated
  • 15 SMG final blows, 15 Super final blows, 40 zones captured
  • 50 zones captured, 15 matches completed, 10 grenade launcher final blows

(The fifth step was altered after the first Iron Banner of the season to remove the grenade launcher step due to a bug.)

Here again, we see the ugly monster of “final blows” rearing its head. Bungie, I love you, and I love Iron Banner, but please stop with this. There are many players who will gladly hop into Iron Banner for a chance at some drops and to chip away at some progress in things like assists bounties or capping points, but if they weren’t able to nab final blows, and in some cases with fairly technical weapons like fusion rifles, they were unable to claim even a single drop from the vendor.

If you want players to be in PvP and be cannon fodder for other players, or—better yet!—to learn how to PvP over time and maybe begin enjoying the mode, you have to give them something for their time. Making this multi-step quest the barrier to entry, and making it character-bound on top of it, is too much to ask of infrequent PvP players.

It will not move them to improve. It will instead drive them away from the mode and potentially the game.

Eriana’s Vow

This gun is amazing. It steps outside the weapon class and archetype, has one of the new anti-Champion aspects baked in, and hits like a truck. Has a great risk/reward profile for bringing it with you. More like this, please.

The quest for the catalyst was not amazing. It required ludicrous numbers of “ritual” event completions to complete the quest to even get the catalyst to drop, and then required you to get a bunch of kills with it to finally slot the catalyst.

I played hundreds of hours of Destiny over the last ten weeks, and I still don’t have this done.

Eververse and the Season Pass

I could write several thousand words on how Eververse is missing the boat, but I’ll save that for another time. I’m sure many of you are aware of its problems.

The season pass track was actually mostly well-done.

This is also very much a part of Shadowkeep and not the individual season, but I think they hit this one at about 80%. The ranks felt like they moved along quite a bit, it rewarded me for engaging with various kinds of content and especially bounties, and it was very doable to get it to 100 within the season. (I hit 150-ish.)

There are some things I’d definitely change about it:

Season pass engrams were rarely rewarding. They should have a very high chance or maybe even a guarantee of rolling with high stats or even specific high stats, to make them aspirational. Exotic engrams should never drop as a weapon, due to the new important of armor random rolls.

The mid-levels felt like they didn’t give me anything of note. There was a stretch from the mid-50s through around level 70 where the rewards were pretty much a wasteland. I wouldn’t take anything away from other levels, but if I’ve paid for the $10 season, I’d like to feel there are significant rewards along the way.

The seasonal armor drops were pointless. I was receiving drop after drop of these in the wild, usually with much better stats. Other than being a guarantee that I could check them off in my collections badge, dropping them from the season pass was not interesting.

The amount of Bright Dust given on the track was a complete joke, as were the BOYO 2 bright engrams. C’mon, Bungie. If you are going to reward me with in-game currency, the value should be at least what I have paid you for the season, to encourage me to grind at it and get my value back out of it. A few hundred Bright Dust is insulting. The Best of Year 2 engrams every five levels were probably much better for players new to the game, but I already owned everything in them, so there were very wasted on my account. I’m interested to see what next season’s bright engram is.

A bunch of this gets down to core problems with Eververse as it stands right now. Some brief thoughts on that for now:

The amount of design work going into Eververse while in-game sources of gear go untouched or “reprised” is a really bad look. I get that Bungie needs microtransaction income to pay their employees and grow at this point, and I don’t really have a problem with some cosmetic things being pay-only, but the disparity and the level of detail going into one versus the other is really bad.

The Bright Dust economy is now pathetic. In previous seasons, if we worked fairly hard, we could nab just about anything from the in-game store we wanted, whether with Bright Dust or with bright engrams. Now, you’d never be able to earn even a quarter of what’s available cosmetically in a given season, even if you did nothing but grind out bounties that provide the currency. Weekly bounties provide 200 each, and repeatable mini-bounties provide 10. Even bumping this to 500 and 50, or raising the chances of receiving Bright Dust in a bright engram, would go a long way.

Bungie touched on this in this past week’s blog update, and now more of the Eververse inventory will be making it out as Bright Dust purchases: 80% or so rather than 50%.

What if they took that extra 30% and channeled it into in-game accomplishments, rewarding you for doing grindy or challenging things with a cosmetic thing? I’d much rather see that.

Ritual Weapons

Bungie got tired of Pinnacle Weapons ruling pretty much every mode, which was absolutely happening due to the unique traits of those weapons, so now, we have Ritual Weapons instead. Each is still a unique weapon you can only get from a specific quest, but they’re no longer creating special perks that can only roll on those guns.

What I didn’t expect is that these weapons were—in at least one case—even harder to acquire than the Pinnacle Weapons they replaced.

I think it’s still kind of amazing that even with ditching the overpowered Pinnacle weapon system, the Crucible gun and quest were still the most ridiculous of them all, though this time, I don’t think the Crucible one was the best PvE weapon for a change, as that honor probably goes to Exit Strategy from Gambit.

All three weapons are pretty decent. Edgewise is another high ROF machine gun in an element we didn’t have for add clear, and Exit Strategy has a pretty great perk selection for any SMG not named “The Recluse.”

Holy cow, though, y’all – Randy’s Throwing Knife had a steep quest. And it’s one of the best weapons in its class. Again.

Randy’s Throwing Knife—if you can hit your critical hits with it—is a beast of a weapon that has no peer in its archetype. It also has one of the better flavor text selections of the past year.

BUT the Randy’s quest was just beyond what it needed to be or should have been. 450 final blows with a scout is something that we essentially needed Momentum Control as a game mode to complete in a lot of cases, and the medals/kills requirement was yet another “percentage-based” one where medals counted, but not all medals, and not all medals that did counted for the same amount

Exit Strategy had a lot of the same problems. I ground that one out this past week, and some post-match medals didn’t count at all. I had more than once match where I was certain I was done, but yet another match waited for me to complete it.

In the future, when quests have “percentage” completion bars, it’d be really nice to have a guide somewhere that tells us what counts for how much progress.

The guesswork necessary to complete these things efficiently is a huge part of the frustration with them.

Undying

Look: I ground out Undying this season, but I would not recommend it for most people. On the surface, the first time I looked at it early in the season, my reaction was “this isn’t that bad, and I think most people should be able to complete it.”

I am less than happy to admit that I was very wrong concerning this point.

The Vex Offensive portions of it weren’t horrible. I thought they’d be the worst, but other than what I mentioned above regarding having to step in front of teammates (and that’s a big “other than”), those bits were very doable with enough time spent in the mode.

The same thing applies to the Moon-related ones for just doing stuff using specific element-based classes. Grenade kills? Melee kills? Super kills? Can do.

In the end, the unreasonable bits for Undying came down to a single triumph:

The Collections badge.

To complete the Collections badge for the season, you needed:

  • the ship that drops from completing a 980-difficulty Ordeal Nightfall,
  • all three steps from all three ritual activity seasonal quests (Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit),
  • the exotic quest for the season,
  • all three ritual weapon quests completed (see above), and
  • every weapon and armor piece that can drop from Vex Offensive.

This was a lot of work, and worse yet, not completable as a solo player. (The 980 Nightfall and some aspects of the Strikes seasonal quest spoil it.)

I just looked up the badge on BrayTech, and was astounded to find that the lowest completion rate in their records is actually for the Strikes seasonal quest, which I can agree was a horrible slog. You can only receive strike scoring for Nightfalls, and the only way to get those done without having to get a group together—for most players—is to run the Ordeal version of the Nightfall, so this past week, my son and I ran Savathun’s Song something like seven or eight times in a row.

It was mind-numbing and the second worst part of getting the title. (The worst was getting the medals in Gambit for Exit Strategy, which took about double the time I wanted.)

This was the first “seasonal” title that required players to engage with all three “ritual” activities in large amounts.

I’m not sure what I think about this, especially given that each of those grinds required a certain amount of proficiency to complete. Personally, I prefer seals and accomplishments that are grinds proficient people can complete somewhat quickly, but determined or dedicated people can complete with a lot of effort.

In this case, Undying was only really completable by proficient people who also had a lot of time to grind at things, and that strikes me as the wrong way to go about it.

I’d like to see future seasonal seals focus more on that season’s unique activity, rather than forcing us into ritual activities that we may not wish to engage with.

That way, if the seasonal thing isn’t my bag, I can just nope out of it early and not bother with the seal. If I really enjoy it, or it’s significant to me, it gives me something long-tail to strive for before the season is over.

As it stands, this season, I spent more time in ritual activities grinding away at the same strikes, the same Crucible maps, and the same Gambit matches I’ve been running for over a year, instead of engaging with anything new or unique to the season.

This doesn’t feel like an effective use of the concept.

Closing Thoughts

I’m mostly looking forward to seeing what Season 9 has in store for us starting tomorrow. Season 8 was a decent first attempt: some solid core ideas, with portions of execution I found wanting.

I didn’t think it was a home run of a content slice, but I also didn’t think it was a complete disaster. It’s weird to have an activity in-game that’s completely ending forever, and not taking up space in the Director for the rest of the life of the game. There’s a lot of potential here if Bungie can change course rapidly enough to respond to feedback.

It’s notable that Season 9 is scheduled to be three weeks longer than Season 8. It’s my hope that spacing things out a bit more will give the activities room to breathe, and not that we’ll be looking at even steeper grinds for the next quarter.

I’m hoping to get back into the practice of writing some guides for Season 9, and I’ll likely focus first on some suggestions for grinding the seasonal title. I’ll know more tomorrow when I get a look, and plan on publishing a guide to the patch notes sometime tomorrow afternoon as well.

As always, thanks for reading. See you out there.

Categories
Games

Raidapalooza 2019

The event becomes a tradition for Extra Life.

At the end of Destiny 2’s first year, my regular raid group had the idea to run all three of the Leviathan raids in one evening, as a challenge to ourselves for fun.

It was a pretty good time.

We didn’t get around to this last year, but in the last couple of weeks, what’s now grown to become Ethos (our Destiny 2 clan) started discussions around doing something similar once we’d completed Garden of Salvation. Schedules have magically aligned, and this Saturday, we run Raidapalooza 2019.

Raidapalooza 2019 will start this Saturday, November 30, at noon Central time, and will run for 12 hours maximum. Each raid will be limited to a two-hour hard cap.

It’ll be broadcast on Twitch here.

We’re raiding for a cause.

Since this will be a fairly long event, we’ll be streaming it on my Twitch channel, and hopefully raising some funds for Extra Life. I didn’t get to participate in Game Day this year, so instead, I’m running some longer streams between now and the end of the calendar year to raise those funds.

I’m hoping to raise $1,000 this year. Right now, we’re sitting at $50, and we could use your help.

There are things you can do to help, such as:

All of the proceeds from this fundraiser are forwarded to children’s hospitals in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

What are the Raids?

The first Destiny introduced the MMO concept of “raids” into the first-person shooter genre. Simply put, a Raid in Destiny is a six-player cooperative activity with higher challenge than much of the rest of the game.

Players are expected to master complex mechanics and tougher combatants than they’d experience in playing alone. They have cohesive themes and narrative importance to the Destiny experience.

As a whole, they are sharply-crafted and rewarding experiences—that many players of Destiny simply never get to see due to the six-player requirement and time necessary to learn the encounters.

As our team runs the raids, you’ll see clear and concise communication, or “calls,” throughout the experience, and witness the result of teamwork that’s been built over many attempts.

There are seven raids currently available in Destiny 2. We’ll be playing through them in release order, and limiting each raid to a maximum of two hours to ensure we can showcase as many of the raids as possible. We’re guaranteed to run at least the first six raids on Saturday, with a rotating cast of players.

Here’s what you can expect out of each raid.

Leviathan

Grow fat from strength.

Called by a mysterious invitation from the Cabal Emperor, Calus, the Guardians board his pleasure barge, Leviathan. Calus wishes to test the Guardians and their Light to see whether they are fit to serve as his Shadows: trusted operatives and elite forces.

As a raid, Leviathan relies more on mechanics than on enemy difficulty. The first three encounters are selected in a weekly random order. Players will face poisoned water in the Royal Baths, be hunted by Calus’s personal war hounds in the Pleasure Gardens, and run the Gauntlet’s obstacle course before confronting the Cabal Emperor himself in the Throne Room.

Leviathan is a good showcase of clockwork raid mechanics, where each player in the group has a specific job that must be completed to prevent the entire team from losing and having to start over. The raid layout itself is non-linear, and you’ll see us taking secret passages to navigate from encounter to encounter.

The version we’ll run is the “Prestige” version, which adds mechanics to some encounters and raises enemy difficulty.

Grab your Rat King.

Eater of Worlds

In the belly of the beast.

Called back to Leviathan, the Guardians answer a pest control call from Emperor Calus. As the ship slowly consumes the centaur Nessus to create royal wine for Calus’s hedonistic lifestyle, it’s encountered some trouble: a Vex Mind was nestled inside the core of Nessus, it’s been eaten by the ship, and now it’s angry.

Leviathan didn’t have more than a single real “boss fight” throughout the encounter, but Eater of Worlds is essentially a jumping puzzle followed by nothing but a boss fight.

This is a shorter raid; the initial step is a jumping puzzle that requires coordination between all team members, followed by a brief onslaught. Once this is complete, the raid team is confronted by a boss with two phases: a puzzle phase to unlock the boss itself, and then the boss fight itself.

In Eater of Worlds, you’ll see fluid teamwork to deliver matched weapons to various parts of the arena, followed by a final encounter that requires quick field general work to ensure maximum damage to the boss.

Spire of Stars

On the wings of Icarus.

For the third time, the Guardians are called to Leviathan to assist Emperor Calus. The Cabal Red Legion, responsible for invading Earth and assaulting the Traveler at the beginning of the events of Destiny 2, are mounting a final assault to challenge the Cabal Emperor and threaten his position.

Spire of Stars is one of the fewer-run raids in Destiny 2, owing mostly to its combination of heavy mechanics and overwhelming enemy forces. The initial encounter is a challenge of timing and efficient enemy clearing, and it’s then followed by a jumping puzzle that requires teamwork to relay an object from tower to tower.

The final encounter is again in two phases, at the top of the eponymous Spire of Stars. Val Ca’uor is assaulting Leviathan itself, and both he and his warships must be dealt with. The boss encounter is a challenge that requires constant and tight communication, as well as precision when attempting to do damage to the boss himself.

Of all the raids we are running this Saturday, this is the most likely one to run into the two-hour time limit, owing mostly to a lack of recent practice at the encounters. Many of our clan members do not yet have a single completion of this raid.

Last Wish

O murderer mine.

At the heart of the Dreaming City, the home of the Awoken people, sits its greatest secret: Riven, the last known Ahamkara. Ahamkara grant wishes to those who entertain them, but at a price. And this particular Ahamkara has been Taken.

Charged by the Mara Sov, the Awoken Queen, to destroy the Heart of Riven, and thus rid the Dreaming City of a Taken curse, the Guardians enter the Keep of Voices.

Last Wish is the largest and most boss-heavy of all raids across both Destiny and Destiny 2. It ranges from a simple and unlimited-time arena boss fight, to a tightly-timed chase of another boss, to a high-damage fight and then a mechanics-based puzzle, to a complicated boss fight (that we’ll attempt to just out-damage), and then a relay race to cap the entire experience.

Its encounters are both curiously-designed and varied, and remains exciting throughout. If you want to see the greatest mix of Destiny encounter types and strategies, this is definitely the raid to watch.

Scourge of the Past

A vault, filled with the finest wares.

Siviks, Lost to None, a Fallen Captain, seeks to plunder the vast wealth of the Forges of the Black Armory and steal their secrets as his own. Ada-1, the Curator of the Black Armory, has reluctantly sought the help of the Vanguard in repelling this assault on her family’s legacy.

Scourge of the Past is our raid group’s absolute favorite to run when we have six people hanging around and a bit of time within which to complete an activity. It’s largely fun, it moves relatively quickly, and it’s generally easy to complete with a minimum of fuss.

(We’re also still trying to get the space motorcycle from the raid to drop for my son. 30 clears and counting!)

It’s also a very good example of the “introduce one mechanic first, then a different mechanic, then at the end, mash them together!” approach that makes some Destiny raids a joy to teach. It’s again some quick encounters, followed by a two-phase boss fight.

Most of the mechanics are fairly light and rely on good communication and efficient enemy clearing. Some enemies are more dangerous than others in these encounters. If you want to see a raid that becomes super-tight with repetition, this is a good one to check out.

Crown of Sorrow

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Emperor Calus’s appetite for power has ensnared one of his lieutenants in a trap. Gahlran the Sorrow-Bearer has been entrusted with an artifact of great strength: a crown that links him to the evil Hive race and grants him use of their magics. But Savathûn, Witch-Queen of the Hive, has used it as a cunning trap, and a Hive infestation now threatens Leviathan. The Guardians, Calus’s Shadows, are tasked with eradicating the Hive within the ship.

Crown of Sorrow is a return to the innards of Leviathan, and provides a timing-based initial encounter, followed by another jumping puzzle (Leviathan has a lot of bottomless pits, OK?), and then a two-phase boss fight: first with Gahlran’s Deception, and then later with Gahlran himself.

The initial encounters depend more on timing and rapid enemy clearing, while the final boss fight requires sub-teams of two players to control space in tight cooperation, while rotating one-minute timers threaten to kill players throughout.

I rather enjoy this encounter; I get to form a squad with my son to complete the boss fight, which is quite enjoyable. Our timing is almost wordless in most situations at this point, and it’s amusing to find that we are coordinating with fewer and fewer words spoken each time.

If you want to see boss fights utilizing clockwork precision and heavy multitasking to accomplish the correct outcomes, you should watch.

Garden of Salvation

The heart of darkness.

The Darkness is manifest in our solar system with the discovery of a Pyramid on the Moon. Hive there are worshipping the Pyramid, and Nightmares of enemies past roam the system, threatening all. Eris Morn, Bane of the Swarm, has traced the signal from a mysterious artifact to the Black Garden, which is tended by the Vex.

This raid may or may not happen this Saturday; with the 12-hour total time limit, if other raids run longer, we won’t have the time to get into this one. For what it’s worth, our group only cleared this raid for the first time last week, after a bunch of struggling with the boss checkpoint.

If we do get into it, you’ll see some of the most amazing environmental art in the game. Garden of Salvation encounters rely on causing boss damage during specific windows of opportunity. For the first half of the raid, the team chases down the Consecrated Mind, attempting to confront it.

For the second half of the raid, we then battle the Consecrated Mind and later the Sanctified Mind, using a combination of mechanics borrowed from the Gambit game type, and positioning-based puzzles. The puzzles demand careful planning, as when you are helping with that aspect, you are unable to defend yourself from waves of enemies.

By this point, I expect we’ll be mentally tired in any case, so if you are watching, I would not necessarily expect to see a clear on Garden and instead watch us hit either the single-raid 2-hour time limit or the full activity 12-hour time limit.

And then what?

Should we actually manage to complete this marathon within the 12-hour time limit, I’m totally switching from Destiny and just hitting a few shots in Everybody’s Golf.

I have a feeling I’ll deserve it. 🙂

In any case, especially if you have read all the way to the bottom of this post, I hope you’ll stop by this weekend and watch us run some of the most entertaining content that exists in Destiny 2. We’d love to have you along for the ride, and we’d love even more if you are able to donate to Extra Life on our behalf.

See you there. Saturday, November 30, at noon Central time, on my Twitch channel.

Categories
Markel!

AMA: 11 April 2019

I have a day loaded with calls, and will need a break at some point this afternoon, so ask me a question and I’ll answer it below later today.

No-one asked me anything.

Categories
Markel!

February 2019

Some folks have asked for updates on how I’m doing with some of my initiatives for the year as outlined in my birthday post, so if you are not interested in personal stuff, you can skip this post. :)

Categories
Code Games Streaming

backlogathon-confidence-screen 1.0

After a bunch of messing around with it over my vacation, I pushed the button to mark a 1.0 release of a very, very simple NodeCG bundle you can use for event streaming as a confidence screen generator.

A short demonstration of backlogathon-confidence-screen in action.

You can find the source and installation instructions here.

During my vacation from work over the holiday season, I thought it would be nice to finally sit down with some JavaScript and figure out a few things. My hobby target for this learning has been NodeCG, which is an open source platform used to generate graphics for livestream broadcasts.

It’s very modular, so it’s possible to produce a bundle that does something specific and attempts to do so very well, and then other broadcasters can pull that bundle into their setups and use it as they wish.

It makes use of a JavaScript library called textfit, which calculates a div size (in this case, a 1920×1080 display area), and then resizes the entered text to fit that area without overflow and with avoiding word wrapping when possible. It’s a neat library, and I’m happy to have found it.

For those not in the know, a “confidence screen” is a display that is usually placed within view of on-air talent, to send them information helpful to their broadcast roles. In the case of FGC events, we generally use it to send commentators information on who is playing the current game, as well as who is next up and when ad breaks and other broadcast beats are scheduled to occur, so they can lead into them smoothly.

For those of you who know what this is, I hope you find this useful. If you aren’t aware of what NodeCG is, I hope you take a look at it and consider using it down the road in your broadcast toolchains.

This is the first in what I’m hoping will be a handful NodeCG bundles I would love to help craft that can bring high-quality production concepts to more small-audience streamers. I also plan on expanding on this bundle in the future with a more holistic and information-dense approach to confidence screen displays. (More on that later.)

Categories
Markel!

Thirty-Nine / 三十九

Year thirty-eight was pretty strange, y’all.

I went to look back at last year’s birthday post so I could address my successes and failures—and I didn’t make one. I suppose that’s basically 2018 in a nutshell. Some thoughts about the last year of my life, though:

My thirty-eighth was a year of professional growth.

I hit some personal milestones I’d set for myself in my career last year, and it feels pretty great. I’ve been working on an important and long-term project at WordPress.com VIP, and seeing that progress has been really good. I feel respected and valued, even when I’m not feeling great about myself or my abilities.

I’ve also been able to continue to build a reputation as a hard-working and dependable volunteer at fighting game events in the Midwest, and have been recognized with staff positions at Frosty Faustings and Combo Breaker, the two premier events in the Midwest.

Having teenaged kids is pretty fun.

I now have three teenagers, and I’m constantly interested in how fascinating it’s been to watch my kids grow up to be young adults. It’s challenging at times, and I feel old a lot more than I used to, but I really enjoy engaging with them and finding out what they are interested in and who they are going to become.

My health continues to be problematic.

I’ve really failed at this one, yet again. I’m still around the same weight I’ve been for several years, and what started as a fairly dedicated gym routine at the start of the year ended up being months of just not going and putting in the work. I have no-one to blame but myself on this one. I just haven’t been able to turn my diabetes around and get ahead of it.

Here are my hopes for year thirty-nine:

It’s time to learn JavaScript.

I’ve been neglecting this professionally for too long. JS is becoming more and more the language I’ll have to work with on the web, and not being at least somewhat proficient with it will eventually become a deficiency. I’m spending some of this week at work on experimenting with JavaScript and trying to learn how it and other modern front-end technologies work.

I’m using NodeCG as a bit of a starting point, because it has a lot of crossover with my hobby life, and presents interesting challenges I can attack that will teach me the concepts I need to continue to develop my technical skills.

I’d like to hit 250 pounds by Combo Breaker.

Can I lose thirty-some pounds in the next five months? I’m invested in finding out. I need to lose some weight. It holds me back in so many aspects of my life, and is a prime indicator of how well-managed my diabetic condition is. I know that weight can be just a number, but this is just a part of my life I feel I need to conquer before I’m 40.

And in the end, the only person I can be accountable to is myself. It’s going to be hard work, and I’ll have to give up things I really like—such as being lazy and a number of food items I love—but I need to get back to physical activity and pair it with controlling my carb intake properly.

I want to start streaming local events.

Last year, I came back from Frosty Faustings and my first work on stream direction alongside Will English with goals to establish myself in the St. Louis area as an event streamer. I have most of the gear I need for the job, and really enjoyed helping run the stream at Frosty. For various reasons, this never materialized.

There’s a possibility that the opportunity will present itself again this year, and if I can smartly approach it, I plan to. I’m still not going to stream anything where I’m unable to attach my name or channel to it in some way, and I hope attitudes towards that have changed here in a way that will allow for me to get more event experience. We’ll see how it goes.

I’d love to be able to engage with the FGC outside of those two specific events every year, but it’ll take some effort and luck.

I’m going to conquer learning Japanese.

Some of you know that I started down this path last year, a bit too late to take advantage of the yearly sale at WaniKani. I managed through the first two levels of learning kanji, and put my learning on hold around mid-year so I could purchase a lifetime membership to the site once the sale came back around at the end of the year.

I purchased my lifetime membership a couple of weeks ago, and I’m already back to where I was when I stopped (I reset my progress back to level one when I purchased the membership).

I’d like to be at level 20 by the end of the year, and start working towards speaking proficiency as well. I’ll be reading through some grammar within a few months, and I would like to be able to take the test for N5 proficiency in December.

So I begin year thirty-nine.

It surprises me sometimes when I think about how much stuff in my life is now significantly far away, temporally. Lots of things have been over for a while now—high school was two decades ago and change, my career change is now over a decade old, and my children are approaching the age when I went off to college. We’re officially done with the “little kids” stage of our lives, and there’s an uncomfortable inevitability to that notion.

I recently listened to a recording of a performance I was part of when I was only two years older than my oldest son. It was sobering to consider.

I’m by no means done with, though. My life didn’t really have solid direction until I was thirty, and there continue to be opportunities that will present themselves as we continue to forge along in life. I count myself amazingly fortunate to be accompanied on this journey by my wife, who supports and encourages me along the way. And we are likewise enriched by the presence of our children.

I’ll try to check in on this stuff every so often throughout the year. And I’ll be streaming live on Twitch later today, as well! It’d mean a lot to me if you’d stop by on my birthday.

Be seeing you.

Categories
High Fives

Tofugu Swag Drop

(I apologize for the lighting quality on all pictures in this post; it is late and I did not feel like messing with it beyond getting clear images.)

I wanted a Crabigator sticker for my laptop now that I’m digging in pretty hard in learning my kanji via WaniKani, and noticed that the Tofugu store was having a pretty rad sale on pretty much everything.

Turns out they have a pretty great set of WaniKani stickers, so I ordered a package that included those stickers and a tenugui with one of their illustrations. They showed up today, and I love the merch:

The stickers are nicely-rendered and high-quality vinyls, and the tenugui is also pretty great. It’s slightly small to fit around my giant gourd as a headband, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to use it that way.

But the coolest thing was this hand-written postcard that came with the merch:

Kristen, I want to say thank you for taking the time to personalize my order, and I hope this will be a good year, as well. I’m a few weeks back into rejoining WaniKani now that I have purchased a subscription, and I’m already hitting those points where I level up my kanji and unlock a stack of vocabulary, causing me to run like I’m being chased by the boulder at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Categories
Games Streaming

fg-reference-screens Gets a Christmas 2018 Update

I pushed an update earlier today to fg-reference-screens, which is a repository of captures I have set up you can use to plan layouts for various fighting games by seeing how they will display without having to set up a capture.

I gave it an actual release at 1.0 this time. You can download the ZIP of the screens if you want or check out the repository at any time using the link above.

If you have a specific request I can fill, please file an issue against the repository and I’ll see what I can do as long as I have access to the game—I’m a few games behind in my collection at this point.

Here’s the change log for version 1.0:

* Update Street Fighter V to use Arcade Edition visual changes.
* Add Divekick.
* Add Dragonball FighterZ.
* Add Gang Beasts.
* Add Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2.
* Add Injustice 2. (Yes; I know the match screen is currently missing. Will update that later.)
* Add Lethal League.
* Add Nidhogg.
* Add Nidhogg 2.
* Add NitroPlus Blasterz Heroines Infinite Duel.
* Add Tekken 7.
* Add TowerFall Ascension.
* Add UNIST.
* Add Windjammers.

The next step for this repository is going to be adding some JSON bits to the various directories, so if you want to pull the screens into another application, you can read that data and use it for display.

Have a great Christmas!